Look, Ma, No Hands!

Subtropic composers say the Disklavier has a finger on the future

The Disklavier's potential has influenced the structure of Floyd's recent performance pieces. "I'm writing musical events that are recorded into the computer, then called up to perform on Disklavier at the same time that I play other parts live," he explains. "The computer plays another part for you and you can trigger those events to happen when you want to. For example, I can assign one particular key on the keyboard to trigger the computer, so a sequence will play when I touch that key. I've been working with synthesizers for years. It's the same technology, but the quality of sound is incomparable, because this is a real concert instrument. It sounds just like any other concert piano."

New York-based Morton Subotnick has experimented extensively with the Disklavier and other MIDI instruments. Intent on creating musical forms that follow technological evolutions, Subotnick has said that playing our present music on-line is "like playing Liszt's B minor sonata on harpsichord."

At the MDCC concert, Subotnick will play his aptly named Angel Concerto, a virtual reality composition written for the Disklavier and an electronic hand, which controls the piano using sensors. To play, he moves the hand in various directions, triggering sequences in a computer interfaced with the Disklavier, enabling him to perform a complex piece without ever touching the keyboard.

Morton Subotnick, J.B. Floyd, Anthony de Mare, and Gustavo Matamoros perform at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in the Red Room at MDCC Wolfson Campus, 300 NE 2nd Ave, rm 2106; 237-3032. Admission is free.

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